Minnesota at Northwestern: The Minnesota Golden Gophers will travel to Evanston, Illinois and Welsh-Ryan Arena on Sunday to face the Northwestern Wildcats in what is the rubber-match of the 2010 series. The game is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. and will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network with Wayne Larrivee and Shon Morris on the call.
- The Gophers won the series opener 65-61 on Jan. 26 at Williams Arena behind 20 points from junior Blake Hoffarber. The win put an end to a three-game losing streak. Minnesota held a 13-point lead in that game but had to hold on late for the victory. John Shurna led Northwestern with 19 points.
- History would say that this will not be the final matchup between the two schools this season.The Gophers and Wildcats have met in the first round of the 2008 and 2009 Big Ten Tournaments in Indianapolis. Minnesota won both games.
About the Golden Gophers:
- Golden Gopher Head Coach Tubby Smith's all-time record stands at 443-179 (18th Season) while his Minnesota record is 56-34 (Third Season)
- The Gophers are amongst the nations leaders in many statistical categories. As of the NCAA's most recent stats (Feb. 11), Minnesota is seventh in assists per game (17.3), 13th in steals per game (9.3), 14th in blocked shots (6.2), 23rd in assist turnover ratio (1.31) and 23rd in three-point FG percentage (.390).
- Individually, Blake Hoffarber is first in the nation in 3-point FG percentage (.500) while Al Nolen is 8th in assist turnover ratio (2.96) and 22nd in steals per game (2.4). Also, Damian Johnson joins Nolen on the steals list, as he sits 35th nationally with 2.1 spg.
- Minnesota leads the Big Ten Conference in blocked shots (143: 6.2 bpg), steals (214: 9.3 spg) and is third in defensive field goal percentage (.402).
- Blake Hoffarber is averaging a career-high 11.7 ppg this season and is shooting .523 (91-174) from the field and .500 (66-132) from three-point land, also career highs.
- Hoffarber is averaging 14.4 ppg and is shooting .577 (79-137) from the field and .545 (55-101) from behind the arc over the last 16 games. Lawrence Westbrook is close behind at 13.2 ppg while shooting .509 from the field in that same stretch.
- Westbrook leads Minnesota in scoring for the season with a career-high 13.0 points per game. He joined the Gophers' 1,000 point club with a pair of free throws in the second half against Michigan State on Jan. 23. He enters the Northwestern game with 1,050 career points, which is 31st on the Gophers' all-time scoring list.
- Ralph Sampson III is the Gophers' leading rebounder with a career-high 6.1 boards per game. He collected his second career double-double, both this season, with 13 points and 10 rebounds at Penn State (2/06).
- Al Nolen will miss the rest of the season after being declared academic ineligible by the NCAA.
- The Gophers went 8-0 this season at Williams Arena during the non-conference schedule. Under Smith, Minnesota is 25-0 in regular season non-conference games at the Barn. Dating back to the 2006-07 season under Jim Molinari, Minnesota has won 27 consecutive non-conference regular season home games.
- Smith is 39-10 (.796) overall at Williams Arena during his two-plus seasons at Minnesota.
- Minnesota is allowing just 60.0 points per game at Williams Arena under Smith (49 games). The Gophers allowed just 58.4 ppg at the Barn in 2008-09 in 19 games and 62.2 in 17 games during the 2007-08 season. Under Smith, opponents have only reached 70 points 11 times in 49 games at the Barn (22% of the time).
About the Wildcats:
- Bill Carmody is in his 10th season as the head coach at Northwestern.
- Northwestern (16-8, 5-7) comes in to the contest having lost to Iowa 78-65 on Feb. 9.
- The Wildcats boast a starting lineup with three double-digit scorers, led by sophomore forward John Shurna at 17.7 points per game. He also leads the team in rebounding at 6.5 rebounds per game.
- Minnesota is 89-57 against Northwestern all-time. The series dates back to 1909.
- The Gophers won the first game of the 2010 series 65-61 on Jan. 26 at Williams Arena. Blake Hoffarber hit five treys and finished with 20 points to lead Minnesota. John Shurna led the Wildcats with 19 points.
- Prior to this season, the Gophers and Wildcats had played six times in the Tubby Smith era, three times each in 2008 & 2009. The third matchup each season came in the Big Ten Tournament.
- The Gophers are 53-17 against the Wildcats in Minneapolis and 36-40 in Evanston.
- Minnesota holds a record of 681-733 all-time within the Big Ten Conference.
- Tubby Smith is 6-1 against Northwestern as a head coach.